- Sydney Paige Monfries, a 22-year-old Fordham University student, died falling in the campus’ bell tower early Saturday morning.
- The door to the bell tower is normally locked, but climbing it is reportedly seen as a “rite of passage” at the university.
- A Fordham spokesman told INSIDER that this is the first incident of its kind.
- Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.
Fordham University officials said that the student who died falling in the campus bell tower is the first incident of its kind in school history.
Sydney Paige Monfries, a 22-year-old from Portland, Oregon, tripped and fell approximately 30 feet inside the Keating Hall clock tower in the early morning of Saturday. She was later pronounced dead at St Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx, New York.
In a statement to INSIDER, a spokesperson for Fordham said there have been “no other falls in or from Keating Tower.”
The door to the bell tower is normally locked the spokesman said, though climbing the bell tower is reportedly seen as a “rite of passage” for students at the university.
— New York Post (@nypost) April 14, 2019
Fordham’s student paper, the Fordham Ram, detailed the risks and dangers of climbing the tower in a 2013 article.
“Regardless of rules and an arduous ascent, climbing to the Keating clock tower tops the bucket list of many Fordham students. While several accounts of the climb rival ghost stories and mysteries, the overall assessment is that the experience is worth the risk,” the paper said.
According to the New York Post, Monfries and her friends snuck into the tower around 3 a.m. on Saturday.
Monfries, a journalism student set to graduate in the coming weeks, tripped on debris on the spiral staircase, fell 30 feet from one level to another, and later died.
Fordham President Joseph M. McShane issued a statement about her death, saying she died “after sustaining a fall inside the Keating Clock tower in the early hours of the morning.”
It remains unclear how Monfries – and other students who have climbed the stairs – got into the tower.
A Fordham spokesperson told INSIDER that the university is investigating how the students gained access to the building and tower.
He said Keating Hall is locked at night and was locked before the students entered.
“In the past, authorised University officials have sometimes given tours of the tower, in part to satisfy students’ curiosity about it, and reduce the likelihood that they would attempt to enter the structure without authorization,” the spokesperson said.
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